From the time we are little girls we are already watching our mothers model womanhood. Whether it entails crossing your legs, painting your nails or weekly manicure appointments, or simply working all day before cooking and dropping into bed, we subconsciously gather details about how we fit into society. It’s no different as we watch them and pick up cues of what to expect in our relationships. We learn that quiet speech makes women appear more feminine even if it really means we are learning to stuff our feelings inside. We also learn other unspoken codes between mothers and their significant others whether it be husbands, partners or part-time lovers. These unspoken lessons: accepting infidelity, money over love, and other mindsets can haunt us as daughters into negative thinking about what really makes a healthy relationship.
Watching last night’s episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta showed the influence ( positive and negative) a mother has on her daughter’s ability to successfully stay in relationships. Porsha, the pampered princess going through a difficult public divorce with Kordell, gets real talk from her mom about the appearance of having a husband who provides her with a Mercedes and high-end purses while actually having to ask her mother for cash to put in her purse. The reality of having to borrow money from her mother to get by while having the material trappings of success was painful for Porsha but she expected to be taken care of by someone. I sensed her mom knew Porsha was after the “kept woman” lifestyle and knew Kordell’s love wasn’t sincere from the jump. I thought about the women (including) myself who’ve been attracted to a man’s power and influence while ignoring his glaring insensitivity and lack of overall concern for our well-being. Where did we get the message from? Watching our mothers make choices, however difficult to stay in a relationship that valued things besides their personal worth. Side Note: it didn’t help Porsha’s cause mentioning she didn’t want to spend spousal support on finding her own place to stay.
Not to be outdone, Kandi’s mother is generally unhappy that her daughter is finally happy. Why? Because she’s found Todd, a good man who loves her and treats her well. It appears momma would prefer Todd have more money and the ability to buy a bigger engagement ring and bigger things. (
Sounds just like Porscha’s mom and most mothers-find someone to take care of you. He has to have more money than you otherwise what do you need him for?) It’s almost as if the possibility of her daughter moving on with a good man means momma will be left to fend for herself. We see the fear in her conversation as she mentions pre-nups and ask Kandi to make sure Todd can’t take “her” money if things go sour. I immediately thought of the Bible when it says to leaaave and cleeaaaave. Momma wants to make sure she doesn’t get cut out in the relationship. But relationships are between two people. In this case, because Kandi’s the breadwinner and her mother fears losing her connection to the money she masks it under the idea of Todd not being good enough. Another sidenote: Todd may very well not make more money than Kandi, but he has a job and Kandi loves him for his faithfulness and who he is. Isn’t that what really matters?
I’ve had my own moments with my mom putting her own fears and expectations on me. How do I know? It took the longest time to share with her the happiness I felt after becoming involved with an absolutely wonderful man. I couldn’t put a finger on why I was so hesitant to tell her about this great guy. After reflection, I realized I didn’t want her to put a damper on my joy. When I finally told her I was in love and even after she met him, she asked “So what are you going to do if it doesn’t work out?” Shocked but not surprised….I replied “do what I’ve always done. Keep living.” I was right in keeping my feelings to myself. Mothers want the best for us but fear the worst. It didn’t help that my mother herself was having her own challenges in her marriage.It didn’t help that I’m 40 years old and totally different from my mom who married at twenty-one. So I know that sometimes we put our experiences on others, especially out of a desire to protect them. Hanging onto your adult children and attempting to keep them close out of fear you will lose your financial benefits is manipulative and fearful. I’m finally in one of the healthiest fulfilling relationships of my life. I remember being afraid to tell my mother not having a concrete reason but wanting to protect my feelings. Her response when I finally shared my new relationship? What are you going to do if it doesn’t work out? See mom was going off of her fears from my past relationship failures. If I wasn’t strong enough I’d bite and believe her statement meant it wouldn’t be long before it failed. Even if it’s unspoken our mothers fear for our disappointment with men.
In defense of our moms they’ve seen more hurt, had fewer choices in how they handled relationships and healed the best way they could. Sometimes I think my mom feels like I’m a wart in the world because I haven’t married yet. But let her get mad at my dad and she’ll call and say…..you are doing the best thing right now. Stay single. (Baggage anyone? lol) Maybe we would pass on less baggage to our daughters if talked honestly about our pain we experience in our relationships as possible lessons for our daughters. Not out of bitterness or anger, but after we’ve healed and held ourselves accountable for our choices in who we choose, why we chose them, and what we learned from it. Moms want the best for us and do their best in trying to keep us from harm. But we also have to be realistic in what we are teaching our daughters about love. Money over respect? Material items over warmth and kindness? It depends on what your values are. But I do know that relationships are best when two people decide to love each other for who they are as opposed what they have. Maybe idealistic, but some of the happiest people in relationships love each other regardless of money problems, weight gain, and the other ups and downs.
What are your thoughts on the moms of RHOA or your own mom’s lessons on love?
College and Credit Card Debt
My own secretive behaviors towards money started in college. When I couldn’t get a part-time job, I signed up for a credit card instead. I bought food and clothes and anything else I wanted, and put it all on my card. This was my introduction to credit.
It took two years to pay off one card because I ignored the bills, and I learned all too well how a bad credit score could impact one’s life. How ironic that I was too ashamed to tell my parents about it, keeping my bill a secret until I finally had to ask them for help? See the pattern?
Trial and Error
To my parents’ credit, they are now much more open IF I ask questions. But money matters are still a hushed topic, even as an adult. Everything I’ve learned about money has come from making my own mistakes to taking the initiative to read books to figure things out. I’ve even met with financial advisors to ask for help with the basics of investments. But l still struggle with a sense of shame because I don’t have it all together.
Each financial challenge or victory is a learning experience. The most important money lesson for me was admitting that I’m an emotional spender. In my 20s and 30s, I’d go to Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx to fill my time. Anything I bought I’d return two days later. It hit me that it felt good to buy things, even though I didn’t need them nor did I have the money. With counseling, I’ve worked hard at improving my self worth and now stay away from stores when I’m angry, upset, or disappointed.
Where I’m Going
Financial literacy will always be an ongoing journey for me. I realize that other people are dealing with financial literacy too, so I keep at it while trying not to feel ashamed. I avoid the mall and check my feelings before I spend. I’ve learned so much about paying down debt by watching a lot of Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey. I’ve gotten rid of three credit cards and started automatic withdrawals for savings, and I always contribute to my 401k with each job. I’ve even become comfortable asking friends who are great with money for advice.
I’m not where I want to be, but I am definitely improving my money habits and making headway with my finances. I know now that the key is to not feel like a failure when I mess up, and to never make the same mistake of assuming I have to keep my financial journey a secret.
Girlfriends are the sisters we choose~Kachelle Kelly
I just watched an awesome video on the need to foster good relationships as women. With all the reality shows showing women fighting over men, undermining each other for status, it’s important to remember we benefit when we embrace and support each other.
Check out this clip with Kachelle Kelly and her view on prioritizing friendships.
How do you celebrate your girlfriends and cherish your relationships? Share and comment and thanks for reading.
Remember Wonder Woman? With the sassy red and blue outfit with the gold ropes to capture the evil enemy and save the day? Her hair always perfect, 0% body fat and she managed to overcome every problem by the end of the each show.
Why can’t every woman’s life be this way?
First of all, that was an hour tv show (then movie with Megan Fox) designed to entertain us. We never saw her paying bills, doing laundry or cooking and cleaning her home while checking her work emails. Second, Wonder Woman is a dangerous myth pressuring women to be Employee of the year, Rachel Ray’s competition in the kitchen all while managing our finances like Suze Orman and dressed like Kerry Washington. This is NOT reality.
Actually, this is a more accurate depiction of what most women end up looking like after a day at work.
If you find yourself tired on a daily basis, eating your feelings away, and snap at co-workers and your kids as your preferred mode of communication, it might be a good idea to take a timeout before it becomes a health concern. I’ll never forget my wakeup call years ago when my hair stylist tapped my shoulder with the edge of her comb after parting my hair. With a low voice, she whispers “whatever’s bothering you, deal with it!!” I was so stressed behind a relationship and work that patches of my hair started falling out. Oddly enough, I was more embarrassed that I was unable to hide my stress from her. We all need a friend who sees our cracks and calls us out when we are attempting to pull a wonder woman. More importantly, exhaustion is not a sign of success but proof you are doing too much alone and on your own.
1. Ask for help. I know….what will people think? Honestly? That you’re human. This is hard because we are so used to pretending we have it all together. Here’s a suggestion. Once a day, start practicing by accepting an offer you normally turn down. Allow a neighbor to help you with your groceries. Accept your friend’s request to babysit if you need time alone. If a friend ask you are you okay….stop lying and tell the TRUTH. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
2. Make it a priority to schedule ME time. Start with a 30 min massage or a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood. Kids have summer vacation and your boss schedules time off…why can’t you? Your down time is essential to renewing your focus and having positive energy to give to others. I hear some of you saying, “I would but I just don’t have time.” Remember the saying, we make time for what we want. What we value we invest in. You’re worth taking care of. Do you agree?
3. Practice saying no. Women feel guilty saying no because we are nurturers. We like to help. We like to contribute. But we can’t and shouldn’t try to do it all. I learned this the hard way after being diagnosed with Lupus. Part of the diagnosis is biological, but I believe the other connected to how I internalized stress and refused to admit I needed help. I’m still learning it’s okay to say no. More importantly, I realize that there are other people who actually want to help in carrying the load. Chrystal Evans Hurst said it best: Exhaustion is not next to Godliness. It just means you’re doing too much.
It’s hard asking for help because we as women buy into the idea we can have it all. So when we max out at 80%, we feel like we’ve failed. I still struggle with asking for help but I’m getting better each day. We can have it all, just not at the same time. And for that I’m thankful. It means I can take my sweet time and focus on this season of my life. And that I can stop putting my worth in what I do and focus more on who I am.
What will you do today to make yourself a priority? Please feel free to leave a comment and share with others!
When 9-11 happened, I was 29 yrs old, living in Tokyo literally 14 hours away from the terror my friends and family were facing that day. It was just another night for me walking home from the bus station. I flipped the tv on and caught up watching CNN World. It seemed like a movie when I saw a plane drive straight into World Trade Center. I thought….”what show is this???” My eyes were glued to the screen because CNN never shows movies, maybe documentaries, but this just didn’t make any sense. Seconds later, I saw the second plane. I shrunk over my bed in panic, realizing this was some confusing attack. But there were no threats I could remember so what was happening? Running to my next door neighbor, banging on the door I told her “turn to CNN,something’s going on at home!!!” I ran back to my room to call my mom but the lines were busy. Her cell, her land line, none of them were working. I was trying to remain calm, but didn’t know what to think. Fourteen hours away, all I could do was pray. And keep watching the planes on tv as CNN showed them over and over again. I was helpless to do anything but wanted to go home. I needed to see my family. The Japanese staff were sympathetic to our American confusion, and finally after talking to my mom, it almost seemed safer to stay where I was.
I’ve never understood how people felt during the attacks because in a sense I was protected from everything living in Japan. It’s interesting that a trip to NYC this summer stirred up feelings when I visited the memorial grounds near the World Trade Center. My vacation was a happy one, traveling with my boyfriend for the first time. Our moods shifted as we walked around the area full of people reading maps and pointing. To see the hole where the towers used to be, now a water flowing fountain with a collection of names was quieting. I couldn’t speak too much while I read the names and noticed people leaving flowers by certain inscriptions. In a word, it was sad. The fountains are beautiful, but symbolic of something so horrific that it’s difficult to take it all in and understand what it was like to be at the site where so many lives were lost.
I took a picture of the grounds but couldn’t smile like I normally do in pics. It felt uncomfortable and totally different from my touristy experience at the Empire State Building and walking around shops in Manhattan. Walking the grounds was a grave reminder of how difficult a time in our history the World Trade Attacks were. I’ve been to New York 4-5 times since being back in the states, but this was the first time seeing the fountains. I’m glad I visited because it reminded me of the fear and worry for my friends and family. It also reminded me that many parts of the world despise our being. Visiting the memorial that changed all of our lives and our concept of safety was important. I wasn’t here when it happened, but I’ll never forget the anxiety and isolation I felt watching people run with dust and soot on their face. It’s important to me to remember what freedom feels like, to appreciate the service men who step out everyday to protect us, and to never take for granted each day we live. We should never forget.